Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald

Broken Wheel

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

By Katarina Bivald

Sourcebooks Landmark, 2016

400 pages

Sara Lindquist, a Swedish woman in her late 20s, travels to Broken Wheel, Iowa for a vacation and to visit Amy Harris. The two women began a correspondence after Sara bought a book from Amy on a secondhand book online marketplace. When Sara loses her job at her local bookstore, Amy invites her to visit. Sara’s stay in Iowa is transformative, but not in the way she expected…

Broken Wheel is a town of 637 people and during her few months there, Sara becomes part of the community.  There are some nice plot twists in the book that I don’t want to reveal, but the book begins as a story of Sara and Amy’s friendship, including Amy’s letters to Sara before the trip, but becomes a story about an ensemble of characters from Broken Wheel, ranging from George, a man who gives Sara rides around town, to Tom, Amy’s nephew and an array of shop and restaurant owners.

And while the book is about a woman’s journey to a new land, it is also about reading. Books are central to the story. Bivald explores the role of books in our lives and the extent to which books imitate life or life imitates books. As an avid reader, I much enjoyed that theme, and quickly devoured this book, which is a light fun read with a little romance, some small-town enterprise and a lot of reference to books. If you enjoyed other books about readers, this book is for you. I found the story ended a little more abruptly than I wanted it to, but that aside, this was an enjoyable read.

And because this book is about reading, and features a small town bookstore, the publisher is hosting a sweepstakes contest for readers to vote for their favorite bookstore to win a grant. If you have a local bookstore you love, check out the contest!

Bivald is Swedish and lives in Alta, Sweden. She was interviewed recently about her book and views on reading.

I received an e-book copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Books I didn’t read in 2015

I get overwhelmed by how many books, good books, there are to read. There are just not enough hours in the day to read them all. Today I will write about some of the debut novels published in 2015 that I didn’t get to yet.

Garth Risk Hallberg’s, City on Fire is the debut that got the most attention in 2015. However many of the stories focus more on his enormous advance (2 million dollars) than the book itself. The book was included in a round up by The New Republic about 2015 books with mixed reviews, which also included Bill Clegg’s debut novel, Did You Ever Have a Family. I am intrigued by Hallberg’s story, set in NYC in the 70s, but a little daunted by the length, over 900 pages! And Clegg’s book, a story of a family loss, also looks moving.

And Paula Hawkins’ debut Girl on the Train, coined this year’s Gone Girl, continues to do quite well as one of the few debuts on the bestseller list. For those of you who like thrillers, it is meant to be a good read, but this book is getting enough attention that I might not review it.

Some books I hope to read are:

The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma is a story of four Nigerian brothers and how an encounter with a madman changes their lives. This book was shortlisted for the Booker and other prizes.

The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy is a story of an African American family in Detroit. Flournoy was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Debut Book Prize for this book.

Gonzo Girl, by Cheryl Della Pietra is a fictionalized account of her years working as an assistant to Hunter S Thompson. Should be a fun read!

And The Ambassadors, by George Lerner is set in Africa and New York and explores a family with a father who does expat work, traveling regularly to Africa and how that impacts his son and wife.

To a great year of reading in 2016! More reviews to come later this month.

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